When I worked at home, insomnia wasn’t even an issue. And the blue moon that it did happen, it didn’t matter because I can do my work whenever pretty much. But now, insomnia is an every night occurrence. But at least this time, I have a reason.
One of our chicks disappeared. No feathers, no body, nothing, just gone. (The white one under Delta.)
It happened before they were all put up at night we believe. For it to happen during the day, it had to be a fox or a hawk. We can’t shoot hawks, and foxes are very hard to catch. It did surprise me because my birds were always real good about hawks. They always hid under the cars, porches, etc.
Well, not long later, we found Delta. I went to put everybody up, and Delta was in a nesting box mutilated and eaten. I was real upset. But as you can see above, the chicks are big enough now to be OK. Shame though. She was the only broody hen we ever had, and she was a GOOD mother. One of the orange chicks was also missing. We assumed eaten like the white one.
Not that it bothered our guard kitties any.
We cleaned up the mess and noticed Niles and Daphne, the ducks, were hurt, but not bad at all. Just missing some feathers. We put them all up in the coop, cleaned up the mess, expressed our emotions, and went in. We also noticed poo in one of the nesting boxes. This narrowed it down to either a fox or a raccoon. Due to the daytime visits, we believed it to be a fox, and dreaded having to keep our poor birds locked up until further notice.
Later that night, we heard a noise outside. The coop is right outside our living room window. Now, our coop is a metal building that closes up pretty good, with a concrete floor. Granted, rats can get in, but they can get in anywhere. We thought everyone was safe from the big boys and rarely paid attention to the nightly coop noises because chickens can get frisky at night sometimes. But this time, we were on guard, so we went out. It’s a good thing we did.
We grabbed guns and lights and threw on coats. Arlis shown a light in the coop. Hens were in the floor-that was a bad sign. On the top of the run door was a raccoon, perched up trying to escape or hide like a cornered cat. Now, raccoons don’t come out in the day. If they do, something’s wrong. Since this was the first nightly visit, that means this coon was probably rabid, and much more dangerous than normal.
“There it is! Over the door! Coon! Coon! Shoot! Shoot!”
Arlis shot with rat shot and then turned and ran. It’s pitch dark out and a bunch of birds are terrified. They’re hitting Arlis in the back of his legs. He thinks it’s that coon. He screaming words to make a sailor blush (I wrote some down to look up later), and since he had the light, and there was a potentially rabid and wounded coon on my trail, I followed. Of course since my loving husband practically ran me over getting out, there wasn’t much to think about. I passed him up, tripped on chicken wire, and turned (apprehensively) screaming, “Are you OK? Are you OK? Did it get you?” I honestly don’t remember what he said, just that we met in the house and calmed down.
At this point, we weren’t thinking too much ahead, just on instinct. The instinct was kill the coon, not much else. Therefore, in our momentary lapse of intelligent thought, we let the dog out to get the coon. She didn’t bother a bird, miraculously, but she didn’t get the coon either. Arlis is waving a gun around, one of the flashlights died, and the other one needed charging. I’m carrying a pistol scared to death I’m going to shoot someone or thing because this is absolute chaos my friends. Feathers and animals everywhere. Screaming and running. Hilarious now, not so funny then. Arlis aims at the dog, thinking it’s the coon (he’s blind remember?) and pulls the trigger. Thanks be to God, it didn’t fire. Mya is safe and sound. I think it’s got a hold of one of the ducks so I start screaming, “Shoot the duck! Just kill the coon!” No other animals were harmed, please relax. We went back to the coop very carefully and found the blasted thing dead in the coop. Dead all this time. Not following us, not harming birds, no need for Mya or fear or chaos. Arlis shot it with the shotgun just to be safe, and I opened the back door and pushed it out with the hoe relieved it was over and feeling mighty stupid for overreacting.
In my defense, Arlis coon hunted growing up. That’s different. You’re hunting them with dogs and others in a tree with a shotgun. Not with rat shot in a small enclosed building where chickens and ducks attack you trying to get out.
Only one hen and two chicks were left in the coop by this point.
We put Mya up and spent the next hour rounding up animals. Daphne was hurt pretty badly, and Niles was bleeding now. They were both so terrified that they let us carry them. I was afraid I was going to have to kill her myself. Her skin was missing on one side of her neck from head to wing. I was afraid of her pain, infection, and rats or other pests bothering or eating her and then wanting the other birds. (To my relief, she has made a recovery. Most of her feathers have grown back, and she now just has a small scabby section on her neck. She is almost back to normal.) Just Henrietta and that one chick were missing now. We had to give up and go in.
The next morning, we put Mya on a leash to go out, just to be safe. Glad we did because we found Henrietta. She had made it through the night perfectly fine. Two days later we found the missing chick. Tough little booger. It was still alive and strong, just scared apparently. Arlis closed up the one hole we think was used, and we haven’t had a problem since. We’ve lost three hens and a chick in the past few weeks, but we have three chicks that will hopefully make good replacements.
As far as my insomnia goes, it’s gone away. I’m sleeping a whole lot better now again. Please, feel free to laugh at our expense and remember, the birds are happy and free again, no locking them up.